ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Dangerous Turn

Modi’s absurd conspiracy theories are a deliberate ploy to ensure electoral victory by any means.

 

Politicians are not expected to tell the truth during elections. In fact, bombast, hyperbole and plain old lies have become the sum and substance of electioneering. But when a politician is also the Prime Minister, you could not be faulted for expecting something a little better. For Indians, that expectation was shattered last week with the utterances of Narendra Modi on 10 December at Banaskantha in Gujarat. Even going by the standards of theatrics and exaggerated rhetoric that Modi has established as his inimitable style, his speech on that day surpassed all limits of decorum expected of an elected head of state. In plain words, Modi accused a former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, a former Vice President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, and a former Army Chief, Deepak Kapoor, of treason. In what would appear a flight of fancy, but in fact is a calculated move to communalise the last phase of campaigning in the closely fought Gujarat election, Modi accused them of secretly plotting with the “enemy,” namely Pakistan, to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat and install a Muslim, Ahmed Patel of the Congress, as the chief minister. All this, according to him, happened in a three-hour “secret” meeting at the home of Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar on 6 December. The only fact he got right was the three hours; there was nothing “secret” about the private dinner given by Aiyar for his long-time friend and former Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

Even if no one believes what Modi said, it is the random association of Pakistan, Congress and Muslim that is at the heart of this preposterous lie. And that is where the danger lies. First, you have an elected leader of a country, a person who is supposed to represent everyone, not just those who support him or belong to his party, openly accusing people who have held constitutional office of colluding with Pakistan and facilitating its interference in an Indian election. Then you have him constantly linking Indian Muslims to Pakistan, thereby reinforcing doubts about their loyalty to the Indian state, something they have been compelled to repeatedly prove in the 70 years since independence. And third, you have him suggesting that his main opposition, the Congress party, is conniving with “the enemy” to unseat him. Seen alongside Modi’s deliberate silence as Muslims continue to be targeted and killed under the banner of cow politics and so-called “love jihad,” such as the recent ghastly murder of Mohammed Afrazul in Rajsamand, Rajasthan on 6 December, you have the makings of the politics of hate that not only marginalises Indian Muslims but will eviscerate the foundations of this democracy. Unfortunately, in these elections, the Congress too has failed to counter the BJP’s anti-Muslim agenda. In trying to show that it is not pro-Muslim, it has negated the existence of this important section of the population by not giving them a voice in a state where they have been silenced for decades.

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Updated On : 19th Dec, 2017

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